Death toll rises to 62 as probe into Quetta police academy attack begins
QUETTA: Pakistan on Wednesday mourned the killing of at least 62 people in an overnight brutal gun and suicide bomb assault on a Quetta police academy, the deadliest attack on a security installation in the country’s history.
An investigation committee has initiated a probe into the deadly incident after taking weapons and ammunitions, terrorists used in the attack, into their custody from the wreckage of the sprawling academy.
It is yet another flag-dropped day in the country, fighting a declared war against terrorism.
Bodies of some 20 police recruits were sent to Turbat, a city located in southern Balochistan, for their final processions.
On the call of the provincial government in Balochistan, a three-day remembrance period was being observed in the insurgency-hit province as the nation plunged into deep grief after burying its soldiers.
In a bid to show solidarity with the victims and their families, the business community in Quetta announced a shutter-down strike in the provincial capital forcing businesses and shops in the city to remain closed.
Three masked gunmen on Monday night burst into the sprawling police training academy in Quetta, pretending to be soldiers as they targeted sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits, in a strike that sent terrified young men fleeing.
Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan who led a night-long counter-operation, blamed the attack on the Pakistani Taliban-affiliated Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militant group. His assertion was later backed by an apparently emailed claim from the Pakistani Taliban, which shares close operational ties with LeJ.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) group also made a claim via Amaq, its affiliated news agency, and released a picture of what it said were the three attackers.
The compound remained sealed to journalists while citizens rushed to donate blood in the hospitals where injured were shifted.
Pakistan’s top military and intelligence command, including army chief Raheel Sharif, attended an official funeral ceremony for the victims on Tuesday , whose bodies were laid in coffins draped in white and borne by soldiers in dress uniform.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif later flew to Quetta to chair a high-level security meeting, while Washington condemned the ‘cowardly attack.’
“The United States stands with the people of Pakistan and reiterates our commitment to support the government of Pakistan in its efforts to end the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism and to promote peace, security and stability in the region,” said a White House spokesman.